[Originally started this in the prior post, decided to make it a new post…]
It was interesting to find out that Jaya Bachchan herself has gotten quite political, as she is a prominent member of a party which I would take to be somewhat on the left, the Samajwadi (i.e., Socialist) Party. (I can’t find out much more about this, especially not her ideology. Most sites reiterate an article in Wikipedia – another good bio, but it doesn’t go that much into her politics.) I don’t know much about these Indian politics in general, but from my perspective, she seems to have better politics than Hema Malini, who joined the BJP (as reported in this article in The Hindu). (And, uh-oh, if you read the article further, you’ll see that Dharmendra joined too!) I know of the BJP as a somewhat right-wing, nationalist kind of party, and from what I know, I find them kind of creepy. I see that Samajwadi describe themselves as “democratic socialist,” which sounds better to me. As for whether they truly are and how… I don’t really know, and I’m not going to look much more into that right at the moment.
Curiously, the only Indian politics I know a little about is the politics of Kerala, because I’ve been very interested in the developments in democratic socialism in that state over the years. And it’s also one state that apparently hasn’t had many film star politicians.
I came across an excellent article in another issue of The Hindu (going back about six years), Theatre of the Absurd, which is more generally about Indian film stars entering politics. And according to what this article says, film stars can jump between parties of seemingly contradictory ideologies because ideology isn’t often their main concern; it’s more often about ego and power. (Surprise, surprise!) On that front, they are not too flattering to Vyjayanthimala. But I’m trying not to think too much about that, because I still want to enjoy her bharatanatyam.
In fact, I really would like to fully appreciate these actors-dancers (as well as some singers, etc.) without thinking about their political involvements too much. That’s part of the reason that I’m glad I have separated this blog from my prior, political blogging. (Although I did start out by talking a lot about M.I.A., whom I liked to a great degree because she put politics into her music. But pop music is another matter, and that seems like so long ago now…)
On the other hand, when a movie has a social message that I like, I’m definitely going to mention it. And I’m finding that the older movies tend more toward the good social messages – an idea that other people also seem to agree with. (See, for instance, this very interesting article from Internationalist Review on Mother India.) But I also would be happy to share my appreciation of these films (and actors, dancers, music) with bloggers or readers out there on a level that is completely separate from politics.
P.S. But now I’m going to get political again… I enjoyed one passage near the end of that 2002 article in The Hindu, where they talked about Ronald Reagan(!):
In trend-setting Hollywood, a failed actor Ronald Reagan became the Governor of California and then a Republican President of the U.S. His teflon charm hid the fact of his being a total failure in the job. His ignorance of international affairs was abysmal and one felt he was acting all the time at the White House.
And I have to say, I couldn’t have said it better myself!